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Topical anesthetic creams
One of the most frequent concerns for laser tattoo and even hair removal patients is the pain caused by the procedure.
When focusing specifically on tattoo removal, all tattoo removal patients have previously experienced the pain of having a tattoo applied. You may probably find that many are apprehensive about the discomfort associated with laser tattoo removal. By employing the best skin numbing for laser procedures, the patient may have a more comfortable experience.
The unfortunate thing about tattoos is that both getting them and having them taken off can be uncomfortable. The impact of the energy from the laser’s powerful pulse of light has been described as similar to getting hot specks of bacon grease on the skin or being snapped by a thin rubber band repeatedly. Specific areas of the body tend to be more sensitive to others and may require more appropriate numbing commensurate with treatment area.
Pain responses to laser tattoo and hair removal are varied. Most patients say the procedure feels similar to getting the tattoo, although some say it hurts less… and some say it hurts more. The sensation is commonly described as bearable yet uncomfortable to very painful and nearly unbearable. For those who find the pain less than bearable to very painful using an option that provides the best skin numbing for laser procedures may be a very valuable tool.
The vast majority of tattoo and hair removal clinicians provide some form of skin numbing to patients during their sessions. Reassuring patients that you can provide a solution that will reduce the pain to a bearable level may give them the confidence necessary to schedule the appointment or when they do, allow for a more comfortable, less painful procedure.
There are a handful of options for the practitioner dedicated to patient comfort: ice packs, numbing creams, injectable anesthetics, and cold air machines are all among the options for the best skin numbing for laser procedures.
For hair removal, infiltrative methods (injections) may be a little more than what is necessary. Tattoo removal is more painful and therefore lidocaine injections may be appropriate for those with the lowest pain tolerance. However, for hair removal, topical applications will do the job most often.
Ice Packs for Tattoo Removal Numbing
Ice packs are a short-term option for clinics that perform a low-to-moderate volume of tattoo and hair removal treatments daily.
Easy and cost-efficient, ice packs can work for numbing the skin. Within five or ten minutes of application, your patients’ skin will be adequately numbed to significantly improve the tattoo removal treatment experience.
The only downsides to providing numbing with ice packs are that there is a lower perceived value relative to other treatment methods and it can be a hassle to keep ice packs cold if there is a larger volume of patients. Also, ice packs cannot numb the skin during the treatment – only before and after.
Overall, ice packs are an inexpensive and convenient option for low volume and clinics just starting these procedures. Efficacy is short-term, however, and may not be adequate for the latter portion of the procedure.
Numbing creams – such as EMLA, NeuroMed Topical Anesthetics or compounded BLT (legally obtainable by prescription on a per patient basis) – often include benzocaine, lidocaine, prilocaine, or tetracaine in varying concentrations as active ingredients. These topical anesthetic creams may be among the best skin numbing for laser procedures options.
These creams are available in varied strengths and through both prescription as well as OTC versions.
The main problem with many of the creams is that they require time to take effect. Many creams need to be applied at least 30 to 45 minutes in advance of the treatment. For this reason, most practitioners encourage patients to apply the cream at home before their appointment. A small number of topical anesthetics contain delivery systems that allow for more rapid onset as well as extended duration. Benzocaine has the shortest onset and duration, lidocaine a longer duration with a somewhat longer onset and tetracaine the longest duration of the three.
NeuroMed topical anesthetics have a very fast onset, in as little as 15 – 20 minutes to reach its peak!
Some clinics use numbing creams as the primary skin numbing method for laser treatments, while others offer it as an option available at an additional charge for sensitive patients wanting additional numbing. Cost of the higher priced numbing creams per procedure can sometimes be a limiting factor. Another issue can be the risk of cross-contamination when using multiple use containers, jars in particular. Some products are supplied in single-use, sanitary packets, which may reduce the risk of cross-contamination.
When searching for an appropriate topical anesthetic cream, pay close attention to cost per gram, efficacy reputation, packaging (single-use packets may reduce risk of cross-contamination) and time to onset of action. These products should only be applied to small to medium size areas and not to broken or damaged skin. They should also not be applied to large surface areas in order to reduce the risk of large volume systemic absorption which may lead to adverse events. Overly high concentrations that also may include penetration enhancers such as DMSO (known to deliver molecules into directly into the blood) may also pose a realistic threat of toxic systemic absorption. There is a commonly supplied compounded combination of lidocaine 10%/tetracaine 10% combined with DMSO being marketed by some compound pharmacies. There are no FDA approved products containing this large concentration, which may increase the risk of adverse events.
Unlike topical, local, numbing creams, lidocaine injections can work instantly as a local anesthetic. However, it does take some time to make multiple injections, particularly for large tattoos. Injections can also sometimes cause cutaneous distortion which may also make the procedure less precise.
Lidocaine injections are a popular numbing choice among plastic surgery practices, but generally are less popular than other numbing options as they can only be provided by medical professionals. Further, lidocaine injections tend to be painful when administered. Limitations include tissue distortion, inadequate anesthesia to surrounding areas, and risk of toxicity with large amounts of anesthetic.
Similar to topical creams, lidocaine injections can be upsold to your patients as an extra charge. Practices that offer lidocaine injections for a fee (in addition to standard numbing with, topical creams, ice packs or a cold air machine) typically charge an additional $25 per treatment for the injection.
Can cause treatment area tissue distortion where administered. Although an option, lidocaine injections may not be among the best choices for the best skin numbing for laser procedures due to the handful of challenging factors.
Cold Air Machines (e.g. Zimmer Cryo 6)
Cold air machines are becoming more prevalent in practices willing to pay the relatively high price. More convenient than ice packs, cold air can be applied to the skin before, during, and after laser treatment.
The system is designed for use in busy practices and has a reputation as reliable. It functions by emitting freezing cold air (-30°C) through a flexible hose, which can be applied multiple times before, during and after the procedure.
By blowing this cold air on the skin for a few minutes, the skin is cooled for treatment – reducing pain.
Combining the cooling system with either topical or injectable lidocaine may improve the overall experience for patients.
In the event that cost is not an important consideration, these coolers may be among the options that can provide the best skin numbing for laser procedures.
Providing a professional solution for the best skin numbing for laser procedures is important for delivering high patient satisfaction, establishing a good reputation, getting quality referrals, and growing your laser tattoo and hair removal business.
With many skin numbing solutions to choose from, you can find the right option for your practice and patients.
Laser tattoo and hair removal providers depend on patients returning for follow-up sessions, so it is necessary that patients feel comfortable and cared for while visiting your practice. Using one or more of the best skin numbing for laser procedure options may lead to an improved patient experience and return visits.